“You shouldn’t go in there.”
“I should lose weight.”
“I should be able to do that.”
“You should be able to fit.”
You get the idea.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary that I keep on my desk at work (don’t judge) defines “should” as:
past of SHALL; used as an auxilliary to express condition, obligation or propriety, probability, or futurity from a point of view in the past
I have developed a real hatred of this word, should.
Why “should” I do anything? Who is the supreme ruler of my life that dictates whether I “should” do this or that?
I don’t like to think of “shall” being sullied with an association with “should”. “Shall” is a perfectly lovely word – I shall go meet you for tea. I shall enjoy this meal without guilt. Yes, I shall have that walk with you.
“Should”, on the other hand, just sounds like judgement. Almost as if when you don’t do what you “should” you are a big failure.
“They should get married.”
“You should move to a bigger/smaller/less expensive house.”
“You shouldn’t have paid so much.”
Can we stop with “should”? Even “ought” seems to be a better option. It feels more affirming to me. “They ought to get married.”
Since you are the only one who can decide your state of mind and level of joy, how about you stop “should-ing” on yourself. “I should get up and put that laundry away (because if I don’t, I’ll look like a lazy slob).” Try to “ought” yourself instead. “I ought to get up and put that laundry away, (but I’m so cozy here in this bed/chair/embrace that I will savor this moment a while longer).”
I’m going to stop letting outside influences “should” on me. They don’t know what’s best for me or what’s in my heart or why I am doing/moving/acting the way I am. Mostly, I’m happy. When I let “should” in, that’s when the doubts start. That’s when I question myself.
The next time someone tells me “You should….”, I will look them straight in the eye and ask “Why? Why should I?”
I might try to bring back “shall”, while I’m at it.